2012 Ford Explorer: Vineyard Voyage
July 04, 2012
The missus and I recently took a day trip to Temecula wine country (about 100 miles southeast of L.A.) and as you'd likely expect, the Explorer proved to be a comfortable choice. The well-shaped, heated front seats deserve props for easing our sore lower bodies on the drive home after a 90-minute horse ride through the vineyards.
As with other staffers, I've mixed feelings about the fitment of the EcoBoost turbo four in the Explorer...
I recently sampled this engine in the Taurus, as did my colleague Bill Visnic and share his sentiment that it works surprisingly well in that full-size, two-ton sedan. Although it's still fairly smooth and quiet and provides decent performance most of the time in the Explorer, running up long highway grades or booting it to merge onto a fast-moving freeway has it laboring a bit like the old Nelly I was astride during our trail ride. Saddling the willing EcoBoost four with another quarter ton of mass (compared to the already pudgy Taurus) is pushing it.
But it gets great gas mileage, right? "Great" might be overstating things, but to its credit, we've pulled 27.9 mpg on one tank, essentially matching the 28 mpg EPA highway number. We're averaging 20.4 mpg compared to the 23 mpg combined EPA estimate, but that's not bad considering our Explorer's steady diet of notorious L.A. traffic and our team of leadfoots.
John DiPietro, Automotive Editor